Greek crisis stokes bitcoin prices higher

People line up to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Piraeus Bank branch in Iraklio on the island of Crete, Greece June 28, 2015.
Stefanos Rapanis | Reuters

The price of bitcoin has risen over the past week—just as the Greek debt talks spiraled out of control.

Bitcoin traded at more than $255 on Monday afternoon, according to CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index—up from about $223 on June 7. In fact, that's approaching the cryptocurrency's three-month high of about $261, and it's all thanks to Greece, according to traders and bitcoin experts.

"(Bitcoin) had been middling around the $235-245 range for several months, and all of the sudden this crisis escalates and you've gotten yourself a nice 10-point pop," said Brendan O'Connor, CEO of digital currency-specialists Genesis Global Trading, adding that Greece was likely the only factor behind the digital currency's upward momentum.

"I don't think it could be for any other reason," he said, explaining that his trading desk expects bitcoin to rise on macro events that are widely seen as potentially harmful to major global currencies. (The euro initially fell broadly on Sunday night following news of Greek capital controls, but it pared many of those losses on Monday.)

Despite reports that Greeks are looking to bitcoin as they see the money supply getting tight in their country, most experts in the space say that the recent price increase is coming from speculation outside the country—not a mad dash for digital cash inside its borders.

"I've heard some anecdotal stories, but overall this comes from people attributing Greece fallout to what happened to Cyprus last year," said David Bailey, the CEO at bitcoin-focused BTC Media, who explained that the cryptocurrency saw large gains during the Cypriot financial crisis in 2013.

Read More Bitcoin could shift balance of power in Greece

The bitcoin market is relatively illiquid, so it does not take much buying to move up the price a few percentage points, Bailey said.

"I don't think it's, all of the sudden, a mad dash of Greek folks out there buying bitcoin. I think it's the folks who play in the space who are just going longer for right now," O'Connor said.

Others have confirmed that there is hardly a groundswell of Greek support for bitcoin:

Bill Barhydt tweet.

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